KLIA – Dream Away Airport

AirportI had thought about the possibility before, but I never had the courage to actually do it. Or maybe I did not yet found the right airport.

When I arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport it is already 20:00 a clock in the evening. Before my trip, I failed to book a room in a hostel or hotel. Determined to save some money, and to step out of my comfort zone, I decide to stay at the airport for one night. However I have no knowledge of this airport. It is my first time visit to Malaysia. I have also no knowledge of the language, the people, or the city of Kuala Lumpur. This is another reason why I decide to stay at the airport at my first night. I want to get to know this country slowly, step by step. Exploring the airport is my first step.

I have always liked airports. In the past I used to spend most of my working days at Schiphol airport. It is nice being around people from all over the world. A safe environment where nobody looks at you in a strange way, if you hang around. Just another passenger waiting for a flight.

Walking around airports at night also makes me think hat nobody cares if you just set up camp, spread out and take a nap. For me however this is a new challenge in stepping out of my comfort zone. For some reason I  feel slightly embarrassed with crashing out at the benches. A bit as feeling like a bum. Then there is also a safety issue, which always kept me from doing it. I have never been keen on losing control, and taking my eyes of my luggage. However I always see so many people crashing out on airports that I start to feel I worry to much. All these people are doing it, why not me. Time to overcome my fear and just do it.


Walking around Kuala Lumpur International Airport, I quickly start to realize that this might be the perfect place for my little experience. Unlike Schiphol, this place is a  much more comfortable location for travelers who want to take a nap. The benches have no annoying armrests. This is great because because you can sleep in a horizontal position. What makes it even better is that the benches are faced to the outside windows of the airport. Then you are not in direct sight, so you can actually have some privacy.

I look around, and sneak over to a bench. Uncomfortable fears try to nest into my head. My brain detects what I am about to do and starts to rationalize me away from the idea. What if someone steels your shoe’s? that would be a really annoying problem. What if someone manages to steal your valuable belongings?  What if you are dragged out of the airport by the guards?

Luckily I am tired and it makes me overrule my thoughts. I put my bag under my head. Bag up my shoes, and hug them like a teddy beer,while I stretch out on the bench. I manage to take a nap for two hours. Not a record breaking one but I feel like a hero. I did it, and I passed some time. Outside daylight is awaking. I survived the first night  at an airport,  in a far away country. Next step, surviving my first day in Kuala Lumpur city.

Your experience

 Have you ever slept at an airport before? If so which one? Do you have any advice for sleeping at airports? Share your interesting responses in the comments section below. 

Khao San Diaries: Trouble at The Club

Khao San Road - The ClubShe stares at met with mad eyes. The fact that she is wearing red contact lenses makes it even worse. The girl is dressed up like some vampire, and she is probably going to rip my throat off. I look around. On normal nights this place already looks like crazy town, but now I really ended up in Harry Potter land. Witches, zombies and Dracula’s stroll the streets, celebrating and drinking lots of alcohol.

Being the smart capitalists that they are, the owners of The Club have taken the opportunity to get some extra money out of this monster fest. It is a busy Halloween night, so they decided to charge an entrance fee. Not a bad idea if you want to make extra money, and prevent the dance floor from becoming over stacked with drunk zombies.

I want to pay to get in but somehow fail miserably. Almost immediately we start a discussion about how much money I payed. While arguing with vampire girl, I am once again reminded why I don’t really like these kind of places. Especially not on crowded Halloween nights, when the staff is even more annoyed then usual.

The entrance money is not really the problem. The problem is that most of the times, I am either pushed inside by someone with an annoyed face, when I pay, or pushed outside by someone with an angry faced, if I try something funny. Trying something funny in their eyes could be anything from asking where the toilets are, to wanting some customer service when there is a problem. Going into discussion about the big why is not always appreciated. Partly understandable at busy and chaotic moments. I should just avoid these places at those nights.

It often looks like the club and bar staff seem to think the same. Please do not show your face her you annoying, large amounts of money paying customer. It seems to be in the blood of people that deal with large crowds of drunk (tourists) every night. I am wasting their time for every second that I am not paying but complaining. ‘Customer service, yeah sure but we have customers now, please come back another time’. A lot of people except this attitude and keep showing up. Reason for the staff to keep acting like that. At the same time they shove someone outside, they shove a lot more people inside. Conclusion: they don’t need you. Especially if you are being difficult.

I am also guilty for this coming back behavior. Of course, at certain moments, I am also drawn to the dark sides of live. Then I want to go out to shady dance clubs, and do my part of irresponsible drinking and dancing. But I always end up thinking the same thing when I arrive. it is hard to find some friendliness in a club. I have also experienced this problem in the Netherlands, with these giant meatball bouncers. When I want to enter a club, they look at me as if I just stole their kids lunch money. What a way to make someone feel welcome.

Going into discussion with the Thai staff om Khao San Road always makes me feel unpleasant. When something is wrong there seems to be no reason for discussion. No matter if I am are right or not. They usually get really angry. Vampire girl is a good example. After exchanging some yes and no’s back and forth I start see her getting more furious by the second, and I get a hopeless feeling. Defending my point any longer and she will probably go Muay Thai on me, followed by her colleagues and random Thai, who want their piece of the disrespectful Farang.

Not much for me to do then excepting my defeat. I lower my head and give up. The guard behind me recognizes my body langue and shoves me, how lucky for me, into the direction of the entrance to hell. Another security guard grabs my arm, and stamps me with the mark of the devil. I stare at the black entrance allowed stamp, feeling frustrated. Once again I belong to The Club. I feel slightly embarrassed, thinking of  all those previous moments when I cursed this place. I wish I was a real witch. That would certainly improve the cursing part. Now they win again, because I decided to show up once more. Again I am drained from my money with an unpleasant feeling, and I haven’t even seen the Halloween beer prices yet.

Your experience

Did you ever been to Khao San road or The Club? Tell us about your experience. Do you have stories about other bars and clubs, where you experienced bad or really good customer services? Leave your interesting responses in the comments section below.

Bangkok – Going Completly Local

Local street in BangkokGetting lost in a strange city. It has happened to me many times. I often try to walk around, instead of using public transportation. I do this with the purpose of getting to know the city. Getting lost has many benefits. The next time I have a bigger chance of knowing the way.

I strolled for hours and hours true large city’s like London, Tokyo and Bangkok. There is always this urge to put my feed to work, and just start walking and walking, in no particular direction. Getting sucked up by a strange city is a fun and adventures experience. The reward is often satisfying. When you step off the beaten tourist path, you suddenly enter the world of the locals.

Stepping into a side alley

Many main roads are crowded with tourists. Those places are often busy, loud and dirty. They give me the feeling that I could be anywhere in the world. Prostitutes, taxi drivers and street vendors, all try their best to annoy me as much as possible.

It all changes when I decide to walk into a side alley. Suddenly everything seems to calm down. Often I end up being the only foreigner in the street. I like strolling true local markets, living area’s, hidden temples and small parks. Sometimes these places are situated nearby main tourist roads. But not so many tourists notice or enter them. Sometimes it looks like the locals are hidden away from the main (tourist) crowd. And I am happy about that. The most precious gems are hidden away. Protected from a crowd who can steel it’s identity.

All cities have their own vibe and local surprises. Bangkok, for example, is an amazing place to go strolling true local food markets. A real food adventure, full of amazing smells, colors, sights and sounds. I like to wake up early and walk around, while the markets are just starting up. It is an amazing food experience, seeing all those exotic products being stacked up in huge piles. However, In the early morning, most of the food still needs to be killed. I often find myself surrounded by buckets and buckets of fish, little turtles, and frogs. Thousands of little eyes looking at me with the expression of help me please.

Then there are the mazes of local neighborhoods. Walking true small streets, where the locals live, I often feel like an exotic product myself. Especially when I am the only foreigner. Or farrang as the Thai like to say. Surprisingly, the locals mostly leave me alone. They are busy doing there own thing and are not pushy trying to sell me something. Something which happens so often at famous touristic areas. Most of the time the locals only tap each other on the shoulder and say ‘hey foreigner’, and  that’s it.

I enjoy seeing the Thai local families, living their normal daily lives. It is nice to see the families joining together at big tables, full of food. The little children are running around. Music is being played. The dogs stroll around looking for food. Mamma is cooking, surrounded by pots and pans. The people are smiling, and enjoying each others company. Often you get a warm smile as well. They seem to appreciate it, when you take the interest to really dive into their culture.

It is a much better sight then having to scroll true groups of drunk and half naked tourists, which at their terms are strolling true groups of  drugged and half naked prostitutes. An uncomfortable mix of bad and bad. But you can make it all disappear, by stepping into a side alley, with the intention of getting lost.

Then I walk further into that maze of small streets, and suddenly a beautiful hidden temple pops up. Hidden from the tourist crowds, these temples feel much more authentic. They are as beautiful as the big and famous temples,  but I often have them for myself. Thank god for the main tourist areas. They suck up the big crowds and create some calm spaces, which I can explore alone. Going completely local and lost. I would not like it any other way.

Your experience

Did you ever got lost in a big city and had an amazing time by just wandering around, enjoying the scenery? Which city do you like to explore the most?  Leave your interesting responses in the comments section below.

 

Useful links

 

How to enjoy your own country

When I plan my travels I often like to look for exotic locations. Preferably those that are far away from my own country. However recently I tried a different approach which turned out a successful experiment.

I noticed that whenever I am in my own country I feel the need to complain about it. It rains to much, it is to expensive, it is boring etc etc.. However when I am far away from home for some time I really miss my country. Its always warm here and I miss the Dutch rain. I don’t understand the locals and I miss speaking my own language etc etc.. Then often start listing up the great things about my country. Its generally safe and clean. There are not much horrific poison/danger animals who can kill or annoy you, the roads are great etc etc… Then I start thinking why don’t I enjoy those things when I am at home. I think the problem is that the country and environment are not new to me, but is this really true…

Then I came up with some idea why not buy a travel guide from my own homeland. This way I can learn how other people/tourists look at my country. They will look at it with the view from an outsider and will probably notice a lot of beautiful/fun things I had shut my eyes for long ago. This turned out to be true. I bought the Lonely Planet guide for The Netherlands and started examining it. I noticed it was really fun to read how other travellers/writers where experiencing my country and I learned a lot to about the history, exiting places to visit or beautiful things to see. Now I often walk around with my guide book in my hand and my eyes open. Often thinking ahh I never noticed that..

My travel advice to you

Do you feel bored about the place you are living in? Are you low on cash but still want to travel or have a vacation/ day trip? Try buying a guide book from your homeland and start travelling and enjoying your own country.

Are you planning to visit the Netherlands yourself? You can find The Lonely Planet guide for The Netherlands along with all the guides from other countries in book stores like Amazon. If you are Dutch and you want to buy it then my advice is to do it online as it seems to be a rare item in Dutch brick and mortar book stores.

Iraqi soup with white beans

I bought the cookbook of Stevie Parle’s. It contains a lot of easy interesting recipes. I started my cooking adventure with the recipe for Iraqi soup with white beans. It contains a mix of spices called Bhagdat bharat. I did a lot of cooking in my life but I never really focused on the spices. Mixing all those spices was a wonderful new cooking experience for me, from buying them in the shop to mixing them all together and creating an exiting new taste and smell. Sometimes cooking is travelling the world in your own kitchen. A lovely thing to do.